Delhi air quality may slip into ‘very poor’ zone soon, warn scientists
- India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasters said on Saturday that air quality in Delhi may deteriorate between October 31 and November 2.
Even as the air quality in Delhi on Saturday improved just a notch -- from 283 on Friday to 268 on Saturday -- scientists have warned that pollution levels may rise from Sunday onwards, with the air in the city likely entering the ‘very poor’ zone influenced by a change in the wind direction.
India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasters said on Saturday that air quality in Delhi may deteriorate between October 31 and November 2.
On Saturday, a switch in the wind direction, coupled with relatively stronger local winds, prevented pollution levels from spiking, officials said.
“Wind speeds might slow down from Sunday and this would adversely impact the city’s air quality,” a senior Met official said.
According to the CPCB’s average AQI data, Delhi is yet to record a ‘very poor’ air day this month so far. However, several monitoring stations such as Dwarka, Jahangirpuri, Dwarka and Anand Vihar have been consistently reporting very poor air quality. The air quality in the city has quickly dropped between October 25, when the AQI was recorded at 82, and October 29, when the AQI was 283.
Mahesh Palawat, vice-president (meteorology and climate change) at Skymet Weather Services said that on Saturday Delhi received winds from the western direction, which reduced the contribution of increased instances of stubble fires in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana in the city’s air.
“For a brief period on Saturday we received north-westerly winds, but despite that, the local winds blew at a speed of almost 15kmph, which ensured that Delhi’s own pollution dispersed easily. Between Sunday and Tuesday, pollution levels will spike but around Diwali winds are expected to pick up speed once again and the impact of crackers could be controlled,” Palawat said.
Residents allege inaction
Residents of Shadipur, NSIT Dwarka, Mathura Road, Dwarka sector-8, Jahangirpuri, Anand Vihar and Narela where air quality monitoring stations have consistently recorded readings of over 300 (very poor category) alleged inaction by the government agencies and the lack of prompt redressal mechanisms.
On Saturday, the areas mentioned above recorded AQIs of 348, 346, 294, 304, 318, 308 and 259 respectively.
Though the CPCB has enforced measures mentioned under the Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) such as banning use of diesel gensets and enhancing parking fees, residents said that action was yet not visible on the ground.
“The biggest problem in Dwarka is open garbage burning and road dust. The pollution control agencies have ordered that roads need to be swept regularly and regular water sprinkling also needs to happen, but Dwarka is still a dust bowl. The sanitation staff sweeps the roads and collects the dust on the side, without actually removing it, and as vehicles move during the day, the dust pollutes the air. Repeated complaints to agencies go unheard,” said Sudesh Rai, co-founder of Dwarka Green Warriors, a residents’ collective that focus its work on environment and civic issues in the sub-city.
In other areas too, residents complained of the apathy by government agencies.
Sandeep Dabas, a resident of Kanjhawala Village in Narela, said he filed multiple complaints regarding garbage dumping in the locality on CPCB’s Sameer app, but none of the complaints have been resolved.
CPCB officials could not be reached for a comment.
“I filed the first complaint on October 15 and according to the mobile app, the expected date for the agency concerned to resolve the issue was on October 18. It is now October 30 and I have still not heard from them. After that, I filed two more complaints but even those went unheard,” Dabas said.
A senior official of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) said the municipality has been “on its toes” since pollution levels started showing a rising trend in the Capital.
He said that 24 mechanical road sweepers operated by the civic body are covering around 240km per day. Nearly 63 water sprinklers are also being used around pollution hotspots in their jurisdiction to ensure that local pollution sources are kept under check.
“The only challenge that we are facing is a shortage of manpower, because of which we probably are unable to respond to all complaints as promptly as we would like to but we are trying our level best that all complaints are resolved within the stipulated time mentioned,” the official said.